The race is on to build a self driving car that can negotiate difficult driving conditions, with auto manufacturers trialling a number of different technologies.And now BMW has revealed it is testing autonomous cars that can slide round corners at high speeds, with the sort of precision it takes racing drivers years to perfect.
The German car company’s new prototype cars use ‘advanced technology to demonstrate maximum safety up to the car’s dynamic limit,’ by enabling them to negotiate turns and obstacles at high speeds.
BMW showed off a modified 2-Series Coupe and 6-Series Gran Coupe sporting its latest technology, at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Both cars are fitted with a Lidar system – a remote sensing technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with a laser and analysing the reflected light – 360 degree radar, ultrasonic sensors and cameras that track the environment, enabling them to make driving decisions.
HOW DOES THE CAR DRIFT?
Sensors monitoring road conditions as well as picking up other data feed information to the car’s computer so that it can make autonomous decisions.
Understeer – where the car pushes over its front wheels – is controlled by ‘opening’ the steering and a sliding rear end (oversteer, which is used to drift) is caught using a carefully gauged combination of countersteering and brake inputs.
This allows a driver to slide around a corner at speed but also in safety.
The programmable electronic steering required to make this possible carries out carefully targeted and rapid adjustments such as braking at the perfect time.
These technologies, coupled with electric braking, throttle and steering control that comes with all new BMWs, means that the cars can change lanes, slide round corners and even perform a slalom at high speeds without any intervention from the driver.
BMW said: ‘The prototype can pilot its way at high speeds and with exceptional precision on a slalom run between cones, adheres to a marked out circular course regardless of the friction coefficient of the road surface and executes an obstacle-evading lane change to perfection.’
The fact that the cars are able to ‘drift’ by themselves has excited motoring enthusiasts, as it is a tricky technique used by professional drivers who intentionally oversteer so that the rear tyres slip but they maintain control of the car. This move enables them to take corners quickly and efficiently.
While the self driving technology will excite would-be racers, it could help people in dangerous driving conditions such as aquaplaning to give a regular driver the skills of an expert. Here a demonstrator keeps his hands on his lap as the car takes a corner at high speeds.
‘Even when deliberately provoked into oversteer – the clearest way of highlighting a vehicle’s dynamic limit – the highly automated prototype follows its path safely and along almost identical lines time after time,’ the car company said.
While the technology will excite would-be racers, it could help people in dangerous driving conditions off the track. It would give a regular driver the skills of an expert when aquaplaning, for example.
The cars constantly factor in the condition of a road surface to respond intelligently and BMW has tested them on the famous Nürburgring circuit.
Look, no hands!
The new self driving technologies, coupled with electric braking throttle and steering control that comes with all new BMWs, means that the cars can change lanes, slide round corners and even perform a slalom at high speeds without any intervention from the driver
The intelligent systems actively intervene in the direction-changing, decision-making process and BMW says its technology goes ‘a crucial step further than current systems’ that which react to the onset of understeer or oversteer with carefully calculated braking inputs, to keep drivers safely on the road.
BMW is testing the high-speed self driving system as it believes only one that can master all driving situations will gain the trust of the public.
Original article can be found at Daily Mail UK.